Regulating access to data

Sensitive and confidential data can be safeguarded by regulating or restricting access to and use of the data. Access controls should always be proportionate to the kind of data and level of confidentiality involved.

When regulating access, consider who would be able to access your data, what they are able to do with it, whether any specific use restrictions are required, and for how long you want the data to be available.

Advice for depositors

Researchers wishing to deposit confidential research data should get in touch if they think additional access restrictions to the data they are depositing are required.

Three tiers of access
Five Safes

Five Safes

For safe use of controlled data, the UK Data Service uses the 5 Safes framework, a set of principles adopted by a range of secure labs, including the Office for National Statistics. The five simple protocols are discussed in detail in our blog Access to sensitive data for research: ‘The 5 Safes’ and provide complete assurance for data owners and researchers by using:

  • safe data
  • safe projects
  • safe people
  • safe settings
  • safe outputs

View our 5 Safes animation explaining the process.

As the names suggests, the 5 Safes are a rigorous system of data access requiring: project vetting, researcher training, secure environments, output checking and more. It will not be relevant for the majority of research data.

Visit our Secure Lab pages for information on accessing controlled data.

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